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(WASHINGTON) Hillsong Report: The US journalist who broke the story of PM Scott Morrison’s involvement in trying to secure an invitation to a 2019 White House dinner for the founder Brian Houston says sources described a “sphere of bad news” and “scandal” surrounding the controversial pastor #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Aug.11: They expressed no suspicions about Brian Houston personally: The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard that Frank Houston, Brian’s father, had admitted to sexually abusing a child decades earlier: Mr Houston has denied any wrongdoing, and said in a statement that the charge has come as a shock to him.

#AceDailyNews says that a journalist has ‘fleshed’ out ‘White House State Dinner’ scoop involving Scott Morrison and Brian Houston after the Hillsong Founder Brian Houston Says He’s ‘Devastated’ by Allegations That He Concealed His Father’s Child Sex Abuse as Member of Parliament: Last week, NSW Police charged Brian Houston with failing to report this alleged abuse to police and the police investigation into the pastor’s alleged conduct began at around the same time as the Prime Minister was preparing for a state visit to the White House in September 2019.

When the Prime Minister arrived in Washington DC, the Wall Street Journal’s Vivian Salama revealed that the White House rejected repeated requests by Mr Morrison’s office to include Brian Houston on the exclusive guest list to the state dinner. 

“My source said, ‘We [the White House] want no part in that,'” Ms Salama said. “But that’s apparently something that the Australian Prime Minister was quite pushy about.”

Influential figure 

Brian Houston
Brian Houston is “a very influential figure within the global Pentecostal movement”, Professor Marion Maddox said.(Supplied: Hillsong)

Brian Houston is one of the most powerful pastors in the world. His global Hillsong empire boasts 100,000 church-goers every single weekend. 

Hillsong is part of the evangelical Pentecostal movement, known for practices like speaking in tongues and faith-based healing. 

“Brian Houston has become a very influential figure within the global Pentecostal movement,” said Marion Maddox, honorary professor of politics at Macquarie University.

In Australia, Hillsong took in $96 million in tax-free revenue last financial year. It also has a long association with Liberal and Labor party heavyweights. 

Professor Maddox said that Hillsong’s association with the Liberal Party started in the early 2000s, with the likes of John Howard and Peter Costello frequenting ceremonies at the megachurch.

“They made a real effort to cultivate that branch of the Christian family,” Professor Maddox said. 

A spokesperson for the Liberal Party said in a statement that the party has no formal relationship with any church. 

In 2008, as a freshly elected parliamentarian, Scott Morrison went so far as thanking two Hillsong leaders, including Brian Houston, in his maiden speech to Parliament.

Mr Morrison is a member of the Horizon Church, which is also part of the burgeoning Pentecostal movement.

Call to action 

In July this year, as the Delta variant began raging across Sydney, Brian Houston complained on his Facebook page about the NSW government’s ban on singing in church.

“Let’s make a stand,” he wrote.

7.30 has revealed that one of the people who responded to this call to action was NSW Liberal MP Tanya Davies, who is now Minister for Women. 

“Hi Pastor Brian,” she wrote in a Facebook comment. “I raised this issue with Gladys and Brad this morning and Brad has just issued an exemption to permit two singers in greater Sydney. I sent details to Donna. Please get the word out to as many pastors today as they prepare for tomorrow. Kind regards. Tanya Davies MP, Member for Mulgoa.”

The following day, Health Minister Brad Hazzard partially lifted the restriction on singing in places of worship, to allow up to two singers with some safeguards.

Two women speak to media.
NSW Liberal MP Tanya Davies contacted Health Minister Brad Hazzard about the ban on singing in church.(ABC News)

A spokeswoman for Mr Hazzard said in a statement that the exemption was given after his office received thousands of emails, including from representatives of the Anglican Church, pointing out an inconsistency with the public health order.

Ms Davies confirmed in a statement that she did approach the minister about this exemption.

Dinner invite

In 2019, the PM was preparing for his very first state visit to the White House. 

The state visit included dinner at the Rose Garden, with an exclusive list of guests that included quantum physicist Professor Michelle Simmons and celebrity chef Curtis Stone on the Australian side.

On the American side, guests included fast-food mogul Daniel Cathy and outspoken White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. 

Trump and Morrison greet each other outside the White House
Donald Trump greets Scott Morrison at the White House in 2019.(AP: Susan Walsh)

Vivian Salama’s reporting uncovered some extraordinary information about the guest list. 

“I had been talking to a source of mine who was a very key source,” Ms Salama told 7.30. 

She said that when the White House insider first told her about the Australian Prime Minister’s intentions to bring Brian Houston along with him to the state dinner, she did not know who Mr Houston was. 

“He [the source] gave me a little bit of the backstory to it … he explained that the Prime Minister essentially views this person as a mentor.

“The White House seemed at that point not to want Brian Houston, not necessarily because of any suspicions about Brian Houston in particular, but they felt like he had tentacles that touched scandal that they just did not want to own.” 

There is no suggestion that the Prime Minister was aware of the police investigation into Mr Houston at the time. 

The media in Australia reported extensively about Ms Salama’s revelations. The Prime Minister at the time dismissed the claims in the WSJ as “gossip”, and later referred to them as “a minor issue”. 

It was not until five months later, in March the following year, that the PM finally confirmed his intentions to bring Brian Houston along with him to the White House

In an interview, he told 2GB’s Ben Fordham: “We put forward a number of names, that included Brian, but not everybody whose names were put forward were invited.”

A woman types on a laptop with a small dog on her lap.
Vivian Salama broke the White House dinner story for the Wall Street Journal.(ABC News)

Ms Salama told 7.30 that she has always been confident in the accuracy of her reporting, however she said she is intrigued by the Prime Minister’s initial deflection attempts. 

“It suggests that we’ve hit a nerve with this issue,” she said. “The fact that he was so protective and sort of defensive of that relationship for so long raises a lot of questions.” 

In a statement, Brian Houston said that the police charge against him had come as a shock to him. 

He said that he “vehemently professes” his innocence and will defend these charges.

“I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight,” he said in the statement. 

Mr Houston is expected to appear in Downing Centre Local Court in October.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister told 7.30 in a statement that the charge against Brian Houston is a police matter, and as such it is inappropriate to comment on it.

In regards to the state dinner invite, the statement said that the Prime Minister does not want to comment on the decisions of a foreign government.

In this Oct. 7, 2014, photo, founder of the Sydney-based global Hillsong Church Brian Houston leaves a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse hearings in Sydney, Australia. Houston has been charged with concealing child sex offenses, police said on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021. (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image via AP)

Hillsong Founder Brian Houston Says He’s ‘Devastated’ by Allegations That He Concealed His Father’s Child Sex Abuse as Member of Parliament Calls Him an ‘Ungrateful Twat’ for Flying to Mexico Source: By Kylie Stevens and Daniel Piotrowski for Daily Mail Australia

Hillsong founder Brian Houston says he’s ‘devastated’ by allegations that he concealed his father’s child sex abuse as member of parliament calls him an ‘ungrateful twat’ for flying to Mexico while a 12-year-old girl in his parish took her own life; Daniel Whyte III tells Brian Houston, your father did a terrible thing and we understand why you did what you did because you loved your father.

However, man’s law demands that you do not do that even if it is family, so whether you can get out of it or not, for God’s sake, for Christ’s sake, and for the Church’s sake, resign and turn it over to one of the men who have been faithful to the work for many years so that the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ can move forward because this is not the only scandal that has happened under your watch.

There has been scandal after scandal within the last year and you have demanded that each one of the pastors that have failed in any way resign, so you need to take some of your own medicine so that the whole church can be healed because ultimately you are going to be held responsible for what the people have done under you and what you have done yourself. Brother, if you would resign it will be one of the most healing things for your church worldwide and really for Australia, for America, for Great Britain, and many other countries around the world. Brother, you’ve done a great thing helping to start all those churches around the world but it’s time to let it go. We love you and we are praying for you.

Hillsong founder Brian Houston has broken his silence and expressed devastation over allegations he concealed his father’s sexual abuse of a young boy.

Houston, 67, was charged by police in his home state of NSW last Thursday, accused of concealing his dead father Frank’s historic sexual abuse of a seven-year-old boy.

He has vowed to ‘vehemently’ defend the case in court but faces up to five years behind bars if found guilty.

Despite the serious charges, Houston remains in America where he hosted a series of church services in Springfield and Kansas City in Missouri on Sunday.

Houston briefly commented on the charges against him when he confronted by a reporter while leaving his hotel before dodging further questions.

‘Obviously I’m devastated, thanks,’ he told Nine’s US correspondent Alison Piotrowski before getting into the car.

Houston refused to say when he’s heading back to Australia or how he managed to obtain a travel exemption to travel overseas while other Aussies remain separated from loved ones due to coronavirus restrictions.

Houston has been based in the United States for the last couple of months, where Hillsong has a large church presence.

The evangelical church leader will eventually return to Australia to undergo two weeks of hotel quarantine in Sydney before appearing in Downing Local Court on October 5.

Houston’s refusal to comment on his travel exemption comes after NSW Police Minister David Elliot accused him of receiving ‘preferential treatment’.

‘Last year he had to go overseas and he wanted preferential treatment to go into a five-star suite. We arranged it,’ Mr Elliott told the Sydney Morning Herald.

‘[This is] despite the fact that the Pope, President Biden and Foreign Minister Marise Payne can do most of their work remotely… and he’s just a suburban preacher. Then he criticised our Covid policy. He’s an ungrateful twat.’

Mr Elliott said he was appalled to learn Houston travelled to Mexico during the pandemic, appearing to leave his parishioners high-and-dry during one of the most difficult times imaginable.

Houston’s church is within Mr Elliott’s electorate, and he recently spent time with a man whose 12-year-old niece took her own life, partially due to the strain of lockdown.

Mr Elliott claims the man turned to his local MP after realising his pastor, Houston, was out of town and not returning any time soon.

‘Houston was nowhere to be seen, he was in Mexico,’ Mr Elliott said.

‘And at that time, I didn’t know that the local constabulary were putting a brief together to charge him with allegedly concealing child abuse.’

Seven years ago, a royal commission found that Houston’s dad Frank had confessed to having abusing the young boy during trips to Sydney in 1969 and 1970.

But when the claims eventually came to light, Brian allegedly didn’t report the crimes to NSW Police.

If found guilty, Houston faces up to five years’ jail.

However the fallout from the legal bombshell won’t just be confined to intense scrutiny of wealthy and well-connected Houston and the possibility he serves jail time.

The global reputation of the church, known its glamour, gospel rock music and celebrity following, is on the line.

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: Aug.11: 2021:

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